Investing In Your Staff

December 17, 2014 — Leave a comment
Brian Sanders

Brian Sanders – Executive Vice-President

Why We Did It.

Allow me to begin by saying I’ve been a friend with Bill Scott for nearly 25 years.  I’m not sure what that says about mine or his ability to choose friends.  Over those years, Bill has gained my respect for his expertise in fundraising and his ability to coach others to be better fundraisers.

Recently, Positive Alternative Radio announced three major benefit initiatives for our team members, which included volunteering at other non-profits, financial wellness training from Dave Ramsey’s organization and tuition-free classes from Liberty University Online.


Why did PAR do this?

That’s the question Bill asked.

A few years back PAR leadership began to consider the question, “What kind of culture do we want to build?”   We landed on Starbucks.

Starbucks has an amazing corporate culture.  So, the leadership team began reading every book about Starbucks, watching videos of their CEO Howard Schultz and trying to understand how to birth that culture within Positive Alternative Radio.

It really comes down to our Ways of Being.   Most companies have core values.   Those “core values” become a pretty little plaque that hangs on a wall that no one every thinks about.   They’re stagnant.  Lifeless.

Ways of Being are actionable.

Happy is behind the board.  Brian Sanders to the left and Frankie Morea to the right.

Happy is behind the board. Brian Sanders to the left and Frankie Morea to the right.

We’ve spent a considerable amount of time, and will continue to do so, emphasizing and being the example of PAR’s Ways of Being.

The Ways of Being are a general framework that allows every person in the organization to know how to be and what they should be.

Our Ways of Being are:

Be Passionate

Be Honest

Be Caring

Be the Standard

Be Creating the Future

As leadership, there are now two major things we had to do.

One, we had to live these out in front of our teams.  Unless they see us doing these things and emphasizing them as we did them, then this would be useless.

Second, we would have to systemically do things for our team members to stoke the Ways of Being in their lives.

For example, when we unveiled the education benefit through Liberty University it accomplished both of those things.  It told the team member that PAR cares, that we are passionate about their future and we want them to be the standard of all Christian media.

Because PAR leadership has lived this out for our team, this encourages the team to live it out with our customers, listeners, donors and other team members.

Let me bottom-line the issue now.  We did those initiatives because they were the right things to do.  If the leadership of an organization does not care and invest in the lives of its team members, the team members will not invest or be passionate about the mission and vision of the organization.

The real question many are asking is this…what’s the return to PAR?

We are able to honor our team members and meet some of their dreams and needs that go beyond the office and touch their families and their future.

We hope it makes for a more passionate team members who puts their all into what we do.  Our hope is that what they do no longer is just a job or a position, but a pssion.

It makes it harder for other organizations to hire away your best talent.

One of the roles of a leader is to be an evangelist for the mission and vision of the organization.  As we invest in our people, they will become evangelists for the organization.

Team members who are passionate about the organization will work harder and smarter to achieve the mission and vision.

When PAR goes in search of talent this will make us appealing to potential candidates.

It sets us apart.  By investing in our team it allows PAR to be seen, hopefully, as an industry leader.

Finally, as leadership, we get the assurance that we did the right thing.  You can never go wrong by investing in your team.  Never.

Brian Sanders

Positive Alternative Radio

Executive Vice-President

Brian is the Executive Vice President of Positive Alternative Radio in Blacksburg.

PAR has six brands which include Spirit FM in Lynchburg, VA; WCQR in Kingsport, TN; Positive Hits, WPER in Richmond/Fredericksburg, VA; Joy FM in Winston Salem, NC; Walk FM in Ashland, KY, Huntington,WV; and Joy FM in Union City, OH.

You can read more blogs by the PAR team at

Bill Scott

Bill Scott

Radio is trying to find it’s place in this new season of technology and how gate keepers are being bypassed by consumers.  I often hear from radio stations, “Well, we are local and nothing will ever replace a radio station focused on it’s community.”  It’s like that is the default response from those in radio.  Have no fear because time, weather and traffic is found on our station.  Not to be mean but who the heck cares.

It wasn’t that long ago we all tuned into our local TV stations at night to find out what the weather would be and then used radio to keep track of current weather conditions, time, traffic and also to find out the latest things going on in our community.  Radio had what you needed.  It’s amazing how many stations continue to give the time, temp, traffic as though the listener is actually sitting on the edge of their seat waiting on that information.  I’m not saying that you cannot give that info but at the end of the day it’s just not a huge deal any more.  I pull up my phone to get the headline news, current temperatures, 10 day weather forecast, exact time not to mention watching traffic updates on my phone in real time.  If I want to find out what’s going on in my community this weekend, I simply google it.  Again, I am not saying some of those items shouldn’t be in your broadcast but don’t think more of it than what it actually is.  Your listeners have instant access to that information.

Being local isn’t enough.  You have to offer your listeners an experience each time they tune into your station.  With radio listening declining (Mark Ramsey’s Blog Uh Oh: Radio’s Reach Is Declining) you need to figure out how to have what listeners are looking for at your station.  I do believe if you are a local station you should be out kissing babies, showing up at concerts, making that local connection but it’s not enough.  If that is all you are counting on,  you are going to miss the boat when it sails.

Content Is king:  This means you have to bring something your listeners want.  Provide content they cannot find anywhere else.

Connection Is A Must:  You can have the worlds biggest cume but if you haven’t connected with your listeners it’s worthless if you are a non-profit radio station.  Just the other day I witnessed a station that uses mostly voice trackers and yet haven’t connected with their audience.  They would tell you they have great ratings with their voice trackers but they have failed to make a connection and now the audience simply doesn’t respond when asked to give.  It’s not all about cume but connection.  I’ll take a smaller cume any day if it means I have listeners who don’t want to live without my radio station.  I’ll also raise more money with the lesser cume.

Entertainment:  Look, music is easy to find.  I have thousands of songs on my phone.  I often stream from my phone to my cars Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 11.32.45 PMradio and stream Spotify, Apple Radio etc…  Radio is no longer the gate keeper to my music.  I don’t have to call your radio station only to find out you don’t play requests.  I set up my phone, playlist and I am ready to rock.  Just the other day I was getting ready to drive from Nashville to Louisville.  I got in my rental car and as usual I began to set up my bluetooth connection.  My plan was to listen to my Spotify channel I had created with some friends.  While setting up my phone, the radio came on.  I couldn’t tell you what station but the personalities were very funny and entertaining.  I never listened to Spotify, at least not until I was out of reach of the radio signal.  I would have never listened to the radio for the music but the entertainment was awesome and they had me hooked.   As long as radio continues to compete with the phone or tablet for music, it will lose each time.  It’s like a flashback to when AM radio tried to compete with FM radio with music.  AM radio almost died.  Who wants to listen in mono, through static to hear poor quality music when I could just jump over to FM?  AM Radio had to change the game and they did that with talk radio.  I am not saying you don’t play music at your station, what I am saying is your show, personalities have to be so good that your listener will not go online to stream something, that they will stay with you, oh and you just happen to play music as well.

Radio is changing and it’s changing quickly.  Being local is not enough.  You have to provide an experience, have awesome content, make a great connection and have personalities on the air that are very entertaining.

Swift v. Spotify

November 22, 2014 — 3 Comments


Ben Milton

Ben Milton

Unless you live under a rock you’ve heard that Taylor Swift pulled all of her music off of Spotify.  Her complaint (and that of every artist who isn’t named Dave Grohl) is that not enough money is paid by Spotify to the artist.  Spotify of course says that they pay a majority of their revenue to the labels and the labels are the ones preventing the artists from getting paid. The labels say there isn’t enough money coming in to share and it’s not their fault.  Big shock there, right?  It’s always somebody else’s fault.  Meanwhile radio has been real quiet about all this.  Why?

               Here is what Taylor and many artists don’t get and why radio needs to pay attention.  Artists complain that they only get $.004  for each stream of their music.  So every time someone plays a song the artist gets a measly piece of money.  You know how much an artist makes each time song is played on the radio?  Hint, it’s not as much as it is with Spotify.  It’s nothing.  Zero.  EVER.   Now writers and producers get paid but the artist doesn’t make a dime EXCEPT for the hope that the exposure leads to a CD or iTunes sale.

               So what exactly are the artists complaining about?  They don’t make a direct dime off of radio.  Not even a single cent!  Sure .004 cents a play or spin doesn’t sound all that exciting either but they aren’t getting that from radio.  And with the entire radio industry claiming simultaneously that listenership has never been better but that budgets have never been tighter it seems unlikely that radio is going to give in even that much.

               Let’s consider for a moment that a wise artist realizes this and talks to their smart manager, who sits down with the label and everyone realizes the same thing I did.  .004 of a dollar  is a TON of money compared to nothing.  Is it fair?  I don’t know.  Maybe, maybe not.

               Imagine that an artist makes about $4.00 for each CD/iTunes album sale.  At the current rate from Spotify a song would have to be played 1000 times to equal that same profit margin.  That’s more spins than I generally give an album.  Even one that I REALLY like so I think the argument could be made for increasing the profit for the artist in this case.  But on the other hand you know exactly how many people are spinning being exposed to your song.  That’s something radio just cannot do.  That kind of information is powerful and has a way of correcting a market that’s been based on speculation.  Music may not be as valuable as we thought it was.  Maybe the market won’t pay $4 to a an artist anymore.

               Here is why radio should be concerned.  Spotify may not be the most profitable way for artists to be paid but it’s the most accurate.  The radio industry subscribes to Neilson, which for all the money spent is still extrapolated scientific guessing and estimating of how many people are listening.  In DC 8-15 people coming in and out of the panel can swing 50,000 to 100,000 people in the sample.  That just kind of shows how fragile the whole system is.  Everyone has just agreed to not rock the boat and question it too much.  To Nelison’s credit they continue to work on making the samples larger and more accurate but at the end of the day it’s still statistics with a possibility of error.  They even tell you as much on the bottom of each report.

               Now think in to the future.  Digital media is becoming more and more a thing.  Ad buyers are looking at where to spend their money.  Spotify can tell the add buyer EXACTLY how many people are going to be exposed to the product.  Radio says “We think it’s somewhere around 100,000 people.”  If you’re smart with your money you’ll spend on the sure thing.

               If you are a label in the near future are you going to invest in a guestimated audience or are you going to put your shrinking budget in to areas where you know exactly your return?  Well, so far radio hasn’t had much competition in this regard.  But how long before Spotify, Pandora or some other streaming service generate enough listeners that labels start going to them first for releases and public relations stuff?  When radio isn’t the for sure go to for new music releases it’s going to have to rely on its talent and content.  An area it’s ignored and marginalized for at least 20 years.

Find Ben and his podcast at

End of Radio

November 12, 2014 — Leave a comment

icn.seths.headThis is not my blog and I cannot post it all on here but it’s a must read from Seth.  I think at least it will get us thinking and talking about whats next.  I want your input on this blog.  I believe if radio changes, there is hope.  Do I believe that some stations will go dark?  YES.


Eight years ago, I described how city-wide wifi would destroy the business of local radio. Once you have access to a million radio stations online, why would you listen to endless commercials and the top 40?


Bill Scott

Bill Scott

More listeners, more listeners, more listeners.  I am constantly hearing;  we are number three in the market, our morning show is number 1 in the market, we are number six and growing.  I also hear; our cume has gone up by 10 percent, 40 percent and we are on the move.  Don’t get me wrong, all of us need to be good stewards of our radio stations and yes we want folks to listen.  Here is where I have a problem and this is only for those who run a non-profit radio station:

I know I have written about this a few times but I’ll once again bang my drum.  I just don’t understand if you have a few hundred thousand listeners and just a few give to your fundraiser why that would be a good thing.  I’ve watched some stations triple their cume and not raise any more money.  It’s great more listen but now the vast majority of your listenership don’t care.  There is a connection problem.  We have to look beyond our cume and look at the health of our listening audience and the connection we have with them and we rate that by our fundraisers.

This fall I had a chance to be a part of a fundraiser.  I know for a fact that the station manager cares about how many are listening but he cares even more about how many his station connects with.  His fundraisers out produce some stations who have four times the listenership that his station has.  At the end of the day, I give him an A+ for making a connection with his audience.  Those that are listening to him are willing to rally around his station because they just don’t want to live without the station.  Can you say that about your listeners?

Hear my heart.  I am not slamming any station for having great ratings and a large cume but at the end of the day I want to know how many of those people care enough to keep you on the air.  As a non-profit we need to raise money and we do that by connecting with our listeners.  A listener that has a connection with their station will open their wallets and give both from their heart and finances when the need is made know.

I think we have gotten so caught up with the ratings and cume that we have lost what it means to really connect with our audience and at the end of the day that is an epic failure and will cost us financially, even if we are number 1 in the market.  To close I’ll say that it is possible to have a great cume and relate to your audience.


Fundraising Tip 103

November 5, 2014 — Leave a comment
Bill Scott

Bill Scott

Frankie Morea - WPER Station Manager

Frankie Morea – WPER Station Manager

I almost feel guilty for passing this along for free.  I am joking of course.  My goal is to see Christian radio do well in their fundraising.

I’ve been a part of over 600 fundraising events, the vast majority through Share Media Services.  I’ve partnered with the PAR Network for the last 20 years.  Recently at WPER with the famous Frankie Morea as station manager we had an amazing idea during the fundraiser.  We hit the goal and moved on to their special project goal.  WPER was beginning to raise money for their new building and studios.  We had three hours and needed to raise over $100,000.  That doesn’t happen with $10 and $20 a month gifts.  I remembered looking at Frankie and saying, “Hey, if you have a new building, can you do the entry way in bricks?”  Frankie said yes

Listener finding their brick on The Legacy Wall

Listener finding their brick on The Legacy Wall

and the rest is history.  My idea was to have people give so they could have a brick with their name on it.  We called this project “The Legacy Wall.”

I love a good fundraising campaign and this was hit.  The Legacy Wall caught fire.  We simply asked for $1,000 for a family to have a brick with their name on it.  The phones were jammed with $1,000 givers.  It was the craziest thing I have seen in a long time.  Well over $100,000 came in during those three hours.  Every six months for the next 18 months, a total of three fundraisers, we used three hours on the last morning to ask people to join us with a $1,000 gift to be apart of The Legacy Wall.  WPER raised $367,000 with these bricks. 

This last Monday WPER opened their doors for an

WPER new building and studios

WPER new building and studios

open house.  Over 500 people came by to see the new station, many wanted to see The Legacy wall.  This is a real connection point with listeners who wanted to physically be involved with the new ministry center.

I asked WPER’s Frankie Morea how much this wall cost the radio station, “We have less than $10,000 in the wall.”  What a huge return on the stations investment. 

My encouragement to you, think about how your fundraising can connect with your listeners.  You

Happy is behind the board.  Brian Sanders to the left and Frankie Morea to the right.

Happy is behind the board. Brian Sanders to the left and Frankie Morea to the right.

might be surprised at the level your listeners will step up.  It all about touching the heart, when that happens the wallets will open and listeners will invest in your ministry beyond your wildest dreams.  You can see the picture of the new building that WPER just moved into.  They went from a double wide trailer to over 5,000 square feet that is 100 percent state of the art.  No doubt, God gets the glory.

Kevin Krueger - WGTS FM

Kevin Krueger – WGTS FM

On the surface, it’s counterintuitive: decrease your station’s income in order to increase it? Look a little deeper, and it makes perfect sense.

The Discovery:

It was probably 25 years ago. A group of us were taking a quick tour through a commercial Christian station. I had been looking forward to learning about their mission and as a young broadcaster was taken back by mission statement language that went something like this:

“Our mission is to serve our business advertisers by providing them an audience of listeners to help them sell their products and services.”

The concept took a minute to absorb. I had always worked in non-profit radio where our focus was on serving our listeners directly, but it made sense, it was their business model.

What’s your business model? How does your mission statement direct you?

The Decision:

When coming to WGTS 91.9 a year ago, I remembered that station visit years earlier. It didn’t take long to decide that in the Nation’s Capital, market #7, we would serve our listeners first–putting them above other considerations. We dove into what this would mean, how it would change our on-air content. We studied the demographics of our listening area: audience growth potential, income level of the counties we served and more.

The Process:

Over a 6-month period we removed for-profit businesses from the on-air product, offering them the opportunity to put their business on our website as a supporter of WGTS 91.9. We would do this when they make a $100 per-month recurring donation.

We also cut the spot opportunities for non-profit entities to 2 per hour and made 30 seconds the standard length. We increased the rate significantly as well, which thinned the number of sponsors and allowed the content of those that remained to really stand out.

Most importantly of all–we run everything that goes on the air through a filter: “Is this in the best interest of our listeners? Would they want to hear about this?”

Of course, there are exceptions, but they are rare, and all exceptions must go up the ladder for approval.

The Results:

By the end of 2013, our broadcast was significantly cleaner of spot interruptions, which meant more music and more talent connection opportunities.

We had removed all of the for-profit business announcements (traffic sponsors continued until the contract with the provider ended at which time those ceased as well), changed the clocks, allowing only one spot per break; 2 breaks per hour, changed entirely how we wrote and styled the non-profit entity spots that continued so they would be listener-focused and rich with listener-valued content (mostly concerts, churches, Christian schools and special events), evaluated our own “station business,” minimizing it through spots; promoting more through social media, website and talent talk.

The direction we took was affirmed by our listeners in their actual giving when in May of 2014 our Spring Fundraiser ended 39% higher than a year earlier and our Fall Fundraiser in mid-September saw similar impressive results.

Intentionally running every programming and promotion decision through the listener-focus filter has helped us make better decisions—including–killing our business underwriting program.

The Challenge:

I encourage all station leaders to get your team together and ask tough questions. Perhaps a change would benefit your listeners–and your station. Perhaps you’ll land on something totally different than we did, but I challenge you–make the tough decisions; it’s why you are entrusted with a leadership position. Pursue strategic, intentional, transformational change.

Kevin Kruegerwgtskids_06a

Vice-President/General Manager

WGTS 91.9

Washington, D.C.

Make It An Event

September 30, 2014 — Leave a comment
Bill Scott

Bill Scott

The fundraising season has begun.  I’ve already been out on the road for the last three weeks with unbelievable results.  This week I get to hang with the team from WCQR in Johnson City Tennessee.

I have seen just about every fundraiser there is to see.  I’ve been to the more music fundraisers, which by the way fail every time.  I’ve been to fundraisers were they hint that they need donations, again epic fail.  I was once told by a station manager that he preferred and I didn’t use the term pledge, donations, gifts, faith promise, as a matter of fact he told me that it would be best if I didn’t ask for money.  I don’t know how to ask for money on the air.  At the end of the day I raised more money than they had ever seen and wasn’t asked back.  True story.

Unless you are willing to make your fundraiser an event, you will not see the success you are hoping for.  Don’t down play your fundraiser.  If you are reluctant to ask for money, your listener will be reluctant to give you money.  Stand tall and make this a huge event that both you and your listeners can be proud of.  Make your fundraiser a celebration of changed lives in your community.  Make it bigger than life

Your fundraiser deserves all the promotion, bells and whistles, fun and passion that any other event gets on your station, perhaps more.  Here are a few tips for your fundraiser this year.

1.)  Make your fundraiser a huge event.  Tell your listener the dates so they can get excited about the fact that it’s coming.  Don’t try to sneak up on your listeners by not giving them dates.  That’s not an event anyone is looking forward to.

2.)  Invite listeners to your fundraising event.  Encourage your audience to stop by and see the station, grab some food, attend a special concert or whatever else you can think of that will bless them.

3.)  Run promos that are compelling.  Share stories, share how important the listener is to your station, share how huge this event is going to be.

4.)  Let your listeners hear how passionate you are about this great event.  I had a station once say that their fundraiser was necessary evil they had to do in order to stay on the air.  Ok, with that attitude you have already lost the battle.  If you don’t believe this is a great event, your listeners won’t either.

5.)  Have a blast.  Any event worth its salt is fun.  Make your event the biggest celebration of the year.   

Have an wonderful event this year.  I hope you hit your goal and do wonderful ministry.

Blurred Lines

September 18, 2014 — Leave a comment
Ben Milton

Ben Milton

You probably heard but just in case here is the big news of the week in radio.  Clear Channel changed their name to iHeart Media.  I had some mixed feelings about this to be honest.  Part of me was like “Yeah! They get it.  Be a media company and don’t tie yourself to one single distribution system.”  The other part was more of “What’s in a name?”  So let’s take a look at those two view points and how that applies to the rest of us.

AM/FM radio isn’t dead.  Not by a long shot.  It’s got millions of listeners and billions in revenue.  And yet the boys from Texas decided to rename their brand from a very inside radio name to a more digital friendly brand name.  Bob Pittman the CEO of iHeart Media will tell you that it’s because the lines are blurring between how people intake their content.  As of right now the majority of listening is still taking place on traditional radio but the fastest growth is happening digitally.   iHeart Media is clearly not afraid of the growth of digital media and in fact is embracing it.

The other side is this.  They changed their name.  Big deal.  Have they changed their business model at all?  Not really.  They are still primarily an AM/FM company.  They have big signals in big markets with big name DJ’s.  However, they have been carefully building the iHeart Radio brand for several years now.  They didn’t need to dramatically change their business model.  They’ve been building their digital footprint all along.  50 million subscribers are second in audience only to Pandora.  That’s where Bob Pittman understands and sees the blurred lines.

My question to you is this.  Are you still only a traditional radio broadcaster or have you started to look ahead like Radio Disney and iHeart Media have done?  Developing a strong digital presence doesn’t mean you have to stop doing traditional broadcasting.  Does your brand have the flexibility to blur the lines between traditional and digital?  Is your app something to really be proud of or is it in desperate need of love and attention?  What about your Facebook interaction?  Are you communicating with your audience there or are you broadcasting at them?  At the end of the day ask yourself are you a media company or a radio station.

episode Boundaries LISTEN01

Usually this blog is about radio.  I will post something this week in regards to media.  However, I wanted to post this podcast because this is something we all deal with, especially in radio.

Janet and I just recorded this podcast cast.  Today’s program is “Boundaries.”  Every one that is reading this needs to hear the program.  Without boundaries in your marriage you are at risk.  Today’s topic is very close to the heart of both Janet and me.  We believe in boundaries in our marriage.  We believe in protecting what God has given us.  I am encouraging each of you to listen to this podcast and also share it on your FaceBook and Twitter.

HUGE FAVOR:  After listening to the program, would you place go to iTunes from your computer (CLICK HERE) and RATE and REVIEW the podcast.  When we get enough reviews iTunes promotes the podcast all over their platform.  So many marriages are hurting.  This is a great tool and Janet and I would be forever grateful if you would review the program.  You will see a picture below of what you will see when you go to iTunes.

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 10.17.38 PM

Janet and I share stories from our marriage.  Our goal is for you to see what we have gone through, what we have learned and provide tips for your marriage. You can also listen at hour web site at Reality at Home.

Have a wonderful week.

Bill Scott